Lighthouse News


   Highland Light (also known as Cape Cod Light) in North Truro, Massachusetts, has been renovated thanks to Highland Museum and Lighthouse, Inc. and Campbell Construction Group.

   The renovation, which cost approximately
$100,000 was paid for by the Highland Museum and Lighthouse, Inc. The museum manages the lighthouse in cooperation with the Cape Cod National Seashore. The funds came from tours of the lighthouse, which has been open to the public since 1998. According to the museum staff at Highland Light, more than 250 people tour the lighthouse on a typical summer day.


According to an recent article in the Press of Atlantic City, Barnegat Lighthouse is leaning. A survey of  Barnegat Light has shown that the 170 foot brick tower is leaning approximately 22 inches away from the vertical.

   The lighthouse, built on the south side of Barnegat Inlet, has long been endangered by beach erosion. Like many Atlantic coast inlets, Barnegat Inlet has a tendency to migrate southward. In fact, the inlet claimed an earlier lighthouse in the 1850's.

   Tidal currents have scoured out a 50-foot-deep hole in the inlet adjacent to the lighthouse. The Corps of Engineers has completed a $1.38 million project to place 160 rock-filled casings, each 6 feet by 20 feet, on the steep underwater slope just northwest of the light tower. Bigger rocks, weighing up to 2-1/2 tons, were placed across the top of the slope in an effort to stop the erosion of the shoreline.

   The 1999 relocation of the 200 foot Cape Hatteras Light proves that even the biggest masonry lighthouses can be moved to escape the dangers from the sea. But there is a problem. At Hatteras, the National Park Service had plenty of room to relocate the light station. The only place you could move it Barnegat Lighthouse would be closer to the water, unless you were going to buy a private residence.

   Most residents are determined to take action of some kind to save the light. Residents are quoted as saying that... I can't imagine Long Beach Island without Ol Barney. Barnegat is  a national lighthouse. It's as important as the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.


A rusty spiral staircase will keep the Cape Hatteras Light's tower closed to visitors for at least three months and probably for the entire 2001 season, according to the National Park Service.

   The famous 200-foot light tower at Cape Hatteras was closed to climbing after a small support segment of the stairs broke off and fell June 12. Many visitors were climbing and descending the stairs when the incident occurred, but no one was injured. A preliminary report from structural engineers shows similar problems throughout the staircase.

   Although local residents were quick to point to the 1999 relocation of the lighthouse as the cause of the problem, the engineers believe old age and salt air are more than sufficient reasons for deterioration of the stairway. "It takes quite some time for cast iron like that to rust to that degree," said park service safety officer Warren Wrenn.

   The staircase is the original one installed when the lighthouse was built in 1870. It was renovated in 1991, but that renovation did not alter the brackets causing the trouble now. The brackets are small parts, triangle-shaped castings about two inches wide. It appears that dozens of them have failed and must be replaced.

More than 200, 000 visitors climb the lighthouse stairway every year.


The National Park Service's budget planners have postponed asking Congress for the $1.7 million needed to renovate Bodie Island Lighthouse's 156-foot brick tower. Current budget plans now call for funding in fiscal 2005.

   The federal government's Save America's Treasures Historic Preservation Fund has granted $200,000.00 to help get the restoration started. These funds add to another $200,000.00 included by Congress in the National Park Service budget
for 2000-01.

   The Park Service is using part of the Congressional funds for work to stop further deterioration of the tower. The new grant and the rest of the appropriation are available for planning a complete restoration. The grant funds will also be used to restore the oil house attached to the base of the tower, according to Steve Harrison, chief of resource management for the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

   Bodie Island Light is one of about a dozen in the country where an original first-order Fresnel lens remains in use. Unfortunately, the historic tower is showing its age with cracked masonry, rotten woodwork, and rusty ironwork. In early 2000, the Park Service had to build a fence around the base of the tower to protect visitors from being struck by possible falling chunks of the gallery. Lighthouse Digest added the lighthouse to its Doomsday List of endangered light stations.

   The Park Service report calls the tower "unsafe and unstable due to significant and extensive deterioration. The most critical is the iron work, staircase, lead paint, and the cracked or broken sections throughout the structure." Recommended repairs include strengthening the spiral staircase, replacing cracked stair treads, repairing or replacing corroded metal features in and around the gallery and lantern decks, replacing the rotten window frames, and rehabilitating broken granite and tile sections in the base.

   Before restoration can begin, the Park Service must prepare a Historic Structures Report detailing the history of the buiding and a Condition Assessment analyzing the structural status of the lighthouse and providing specifications for the work needed. Mr. Harrison stated that was unclear how much needs to be done. The cast iron metalwork is corroded, but much of the damage is hidden in inaccessible areas, especially under the gallery. Using the appropriation and the grant, the Park Service will hire engineers to complete the necessary studies in all areas of the structure.

   Ownership of the lighthouse was transferred in July 2000 from the Coast Guard to the National Park Service. Since then, the tower has been painted and the protective fence installed.

   For most visitors to the Banks, Bodie Island Light is the first lighthouse they see as they drive south of Nags Head on North Carolina highway 12. The double keeper's quarters is used as a park visitor center and ranger office. Other light station buildings are used for restrooms and for storage.

   For years, Bodie Island has stood figuretively in the shadow of the better-known Cape Hatteras Light. Nonetheless, the lighthouse attracts more than 2000 visitors a day during the summer season and about 200,000 per year. The tower has never been open for climbing, but volunteers sometimes open the oil house and tower base for visitors to see.

   Bodie Island Light is one of three Outer Banks lighthouses built in the 1870's by Dexter Stetson. Like Cape Hatteras Light when it was at its original location, the Bodie Island tower stands on an unusual "platform" foundation of longleaf pine timbers, developed by Stetson when he discovered he could not drive pilings in the densely packed sand of the Banks. Unlike Cape Hatteras, the lighthouse and its Fresnel lens have been in continuous operation since their construction. The tower, built on the soundside of the barrier island, is not in danger of beach erosion, so repairs would permit the lighthouse to continue its historic role for another century.


Lightning caused about $10,000 damage last year to the St. Augustine Lighthouse but appears not to have harmed the 1870's-era landmark structurally.

   Much of the damage was confined to computer and electrical equipment at the Anastasia Island structure.

   Visitors were cleared from the 165-foot lighthouse about 10 minutes before the lightning strike because of the threat of severe weather, according to Sue Van Vleet, director of operations for the lighthouse and museum.

   Being the tallest point around, the lighthouse sustains occasional lightning strikes, but never had damage sustained that was in the thousands of dollars. At least 74,000 people visit the lighthouse each year.


The Amelia Island Lighthouse will be in the limelight today as the U.S. Coast Guard formally turns over the 163-year-old structure to the city of Fernandina Beach.

   The Coast Guard has been getting out of the lighthouse business, A. Bruce Magjar, captain of the Coast Guard Auxiliary Division 14, said. It's really a plus for Fernandina Beach because it's probably the oldest building on the island...

   Captain Magjar, of Fernandina Beach, will be the emcee and speakers will include Rear Adm. Thad W. Allen, commander of the Coast Guard's District 7, and Cmdr. James Rendon of the Coast Guard Mayport Group. Magjar says, ...Sophisticated and high-tech navigation equipment havemade lighthouses somewhat obsolete...

   But the Coast Guard Auxiliary in Fernandina Beach will keep the lighthouse in operating condition, including maintaining the light and its Coast Guard radio station for emergencies.

   One of the benefits of turning the lighthouse over to the city is that the city can apply for state and federal restoration grants to help pay for an estimated $30,000 in needed repairs. A survey of the property last year showed that repairs are needed for the driveway, a small parking lot, railings and a glass panel at the lantern house. The lighthouse is in need of a coat of paint.

It was built in1838 near the mouth of the St. Marys River with some bricks and equipment salvaged from an even older lighthouse on Cumberland Island, Ga.

The Coast Guard auxiliary has been maintaining the lighthouse for four years and conducts classes there for such subjects as cardiopulmonary resuscitation and boating safety, and will continue to do so.

Amelia Island Lighthouse may also include structured tours, but its interior is not open to the public, due to its safety hazards and lack of parking.

   Sixty-nine granite steps lead you to the top. The lighthouse is in the middle of a residential neighborhood and residents complain about lighthouse visitors who park on their lawns and climb over their fences.

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